Food Trends for 2023
If you have been following and reading us for a while, you might be familiar with our yearly Food Trends report. We understand food trends are constantly evolving and shaping our culinary landscape, and with that in mind, we've put together a report on the top food trends that we believe will be dominating the culinary world in 2023. These trends are based on our empirical knowledge as part of the work that we do in the food and beverage industry, but also based on researching a variety of sources including industry publications, asking some experts, and of course a lot of shopping and dining out. While some of the trends on this list will seem obvious, some are more challenging or new. Read on to learn more about the top food trends that we predict will dominate the food scene in 2023.
Ultra-elevated home cooks.
The pandemic demonstrated that everybody (or almost everybody, based on the constant smell of burnt cookies coming from my neighbor’s apartment) can cook, if we really put our hearts and time into it. People who hardly ever cooked before, mastered the art of baking bread, learned how to roast whole birds with golden crispy skin, made magazine-cover brownies, or learned how to knead pasta dough for home-made tagliatelle Bolognese. Once people learn and appreciate a good home-made meal, there are no limitations to what they can accomplish.
It is becoming more common to see people trying more elaborated preparations at home following specific cookbooks and recipes, working with sophisticated ingredients, and using gadgets that belonged to the professional kitchen. One of the reasons is that people learned to enjoy the process of cooking from scratch. Additionally, with the recession knocking on our doors, we might not be able to go out that often to our favorite fancy restaurant, and delivery just won’t do the trick anymore. Furthermore, people are hosting culinary gatherings more often, bragging about their perfectly cooked sourdough pizza which took 48 hours to make, while showing how they take more care of their dough starter than their French Bulldog.
This brings a series of opportunities for high-end ingredients manufacturers, farms that sell high quality produce and meats to locals, and specialty shops with all kinds of pantry (new) essentials. Just to illustrate this trend, Thermomix announced that most of the over one million appliances they sold in 2020, ended up at homes and not in professional kitchens.
So next time you get invited to a dinner, go a little bit higher on your wine budget, and don’t be surprised to see a little box of Maldon smoked sea salt where the big blue Morton salt cylinder used to be at your host’s pantry.
Impossible meats becoming impossible eats.
I must admit this is in part a trend I am seeing, but also a trend I am hoping for (sorry fake meat manufacturers, I guess we won’t be landing any new client in that market soon). Even though this topic is part of a different and longer conversation, I will limit this to the actual trend of ditching fake “plant-based” meats for real plants.
We believe in the positive impact of reducing how much meat we eat and rethinking how we raise animals and use land. Industrially produced meat at its current scale is very negative in so many aspects. So, we understand the hype and welcoming of a product that at first glance seems like a solution to the current state of global meat consumption. But when you start looking closely, those meat substitutes raise more questions than answers.
As we learn more about the process of manufacturing plant-based meat substitutes, and the ingredients that go into them, we also realize that the real solution is not substituting real meat products for fake meat products, but to create deep changes in our eating habits. Also, if people who consume fake meats are replacing their real vegetables intake, instead of their meat consumption, we are worsening the situation, and not finding a solution. Also, in terms of consumption, we are not doing much if we are still consuming an impossible burger with French fries and a large soda, the change needs to come by changing our eating habits, and not just replacing a beef patty by a fake or plant-based beef patty.
Another alternative that the “fake meat” industry is working on, might not be as fake in terms of the final product, but the way it is produced. Lab-grown or “cultivated” meat has been gaining traction in the last couple of years, and the FDA approved in late 2022 the first lab-grown meat for human consumption. For sure there is more to come in the next Food Trends reports.
Even though the fake meat market is expected to maintain its growth, I predict a deceleration, as the party is coming to an end, and we are facing the next-day hangover. People are starting to realize that if we want to have a plant-based diet, we need to eat more plants (a.k.a. vegetables!). I believe the solution is simpler if we start following Michael Pollan’s advice: “Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly plants”.
The disappearance of the “Ethnic Foods Aisle”.
As regional cuisines are becoming more and more popular, and each new regional trend is an addition to our existing repertoire of international foods, (instead of substituting them), there is an increasing number of options available to consumers. Those regional ingredients and flavors are gaining more space both on the supermarket aisles and in our pantry and fridge. Gone are the days where we had to walk all the way to an aisle section (usually not more than a few feet) to find a can of refried red beans, sitting between the Sriracha sauce and a jar of Tikka Masala. Also, even when we found those products, we hardly had more than two or three options or brands to choose from if we were lucky.
Fortunately, that has changed, and we believe this is just the beginning. The ethnics food category is expected to grow more than double in sales by 2028, to almost 100 billion US$, according to Fortune Business Insight. On one hand there is a proliferation of brands of all sizes entering the regional cuisine market. Brands like Siete and Loisa are challenging incumbent brands like Old El Paso and Goya, respectively, offering higher quality options in categories that did not offer many alternatives. Also, brands like Acid League are including in their portfolio of sauces and vinegars, products like Liquid Kimchi or Pho Broth concentrate. This trend has also reached the supermarket fridges, with options that include Queso Fresco, Labneh, or Kefir, next to traditional yoghurts and milks.
Furthermore, as regional cuisines start integrating into each other (I refused to use the word “fusion cuisine” from the 90s), we start seeing ingredients crossing-over their geographic boundaries and being integrated in different recipes. For example, Fish Sauce can be used in pasta sauces or vinaigrettes, and Spicy Crispy Chili provides a nice touch of heat to any Latin recipe. P.A.N., the Venezuelan cornmeal brand used for arepas, is marketing its product to be used in other baking recipes such as cakes or muffins.
According to the NYT, Kroger back in 2019 started moving products from the ethnic aisle into other parts of the store as consumption patterns started to evolve. So, the good news is that we won’t need to drive that far to small specialty food markets, as big chains are incorporating more regional ingredients as part of their offering. Next time you plan to cook Couscous, don’t be surprised if you need to choose among four or five options available, displayed next to grains and rice products.
Bread & Butter Service: 8$.
I have to confess I am biased for this trend. After spending all summer in London, I witnessed the importance that restaurants give to their bread-and-butter service, elevating their game to levels I haven’t seen anywhere else, and I am talking about real bread, not the “Breadless Bread Plate” from “The Menu” movie.
The restaurant industry seems to be the perfect playground to adopt and test food trends, with the flexibility that menu changes provide, so we are used to see how suddenly every restaurant seems to have the same menu items, no matter where we are. The list of “hot” ingredients and dishes is long: brussels sprouts, cauliflower, crudos, roasted carrots, and crispy chicken sandwich; no matter the type of restaurant, each one seems to have its own version.
One of the latest trends that is evident in some places, but it seems to be wide spreading fast, is the bread & butter service at restaurants. There is nothing more welcoming than being treated to a warm slice of bread to be spread with a soft intense butter, and restaurants have understood this. With the proliferation of artisanal bakeries, and restaurants baking their own bread, it is almost natural that those breads are offered at restaurants as a welcome treat of part of the appetizers menu. Furthermore, it is common to see how bread & butter is sometimes offered as a menu item, given the quality (and cost) of it.
From sourdoughs with thick crust made with heirloom flours, sweet Parker House Rolls and Brioche, to warm flat breads, restaurants are giving their bread the importance it deserves. And great bread deserves great butter, so those loaves are accompanied by butters often made in-house, flavored with spices, made from different types of dairies, or sourced from local farms. London restaurants like St. John, Brat, Manteca, Quality Chop House, or Bright (I could name twenty more) are just a reference of how great bread & butter service can get. In Miami, some years ago Alter offered a superb brioche loaf, now updated at the recently opened MaryGold’s Brasserie, and no order at Jaguar Sun is complete without a round of Parker House rolls served with warm butter and honey.
Mixologists will be the new celebrity chefs.
You might not be the only one who came across a show called “Drink Masters” on Netflix, while you were searching for the new season of Stranger Things. The show is the Mixology version of one of the 6,745 cooking reality shows on TV these days, and it brings together a group of Mixologist competing to become a Drink Master and earn 100,000 thousand dollars.
This trend is a natural evolution of the “celebrity chef” phenomenon that swept the world a couple of decades ago and is still as relevant.
Gastronomy is still gaining new adepts year after year, and the food frenzy has permeated to specific disciplines like baking, wine, and of course, Mixology. Also, prestigious awards like The World’s 50 Best, are now announcing their yearly list of the World’s 50 Best Bars, with regional awards also for Asia and North America.
The creativity of talented mixologists from all over the world, is giving life to both innovative and classic cocktail bars in every major city and is also pushing restaurants to upgrade their bar program, elevating their pre-dinner cocktail game to levels we’ve never seen before in such a widespread manner.
A visit to The Connaught Bar in London to see Agostino Perrone in action, browsing the cocktail menu of any bar where French beverage consultant Nico de Soto has worked with, or enjoying one of Dante’s perfect Negronis in New York, is the best way to sip and understand this trend. So have your camera ready next time you go out for a drink, because that shy person across the bar who served you the perfect Manhattan, might be the next Bobby Flay.
- Food Culture
- Food marketing